Australian pistol shooter and Old Michaelian Elena Galiabovitch (OM 2007) was one of just six athletes chosen by the International Olympic Committee to carry the Olympic flag at the Games’ opening ceremony in Tokyo.
Along with being one of the world’s best athletes, there was something else Elena had in common with the other flagbearers selected for this honour. Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, each of these individuals had been working on the medical frontline, fighting for their communities.
Aside from representing Australia in Shooting, Elena is a doctor who has been working night shifts in a Melbourne hospital and conducting swab tests at drive-through testing clinics, all while completing her master’s degree to become a urological surgeon.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would ever help carry the Olympic flag at an Opening Ceremony. I'm humbled and honoured.Elena Galiabovitch to the Australian Olympic Team
“I am privileged to be representing the Australian Olympic Team, the 15-member Australian Shooting team, and all frontline medical workers who have done such a magnificent job under very difficult circumstances over the past 18 months.”
Ian Chesterman, Australian Chef de Mission of the Games, could not think of a better candidate for this honour.
“Elena has contributed to the health and welfare of Australians and Australian communities through the pandemic while training for the Tokyo Olympics. We are proud to have her in this Olympic team and applaud her recognition in being a flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony,” he said.
The moment was particularly poignant for Elena’s family, especially her father Vladimir, who as the Australian Olympic Pistol coach, has proudly trained Elena through many accomplishments including the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the Tokyo Games.
Elena claimed her first international title in 2015 when she won the women’s 25m Pistol event at the Oceania Championships. Elena also found success at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 where she claimed a silver medal in the women’s 25m Pistol and a bronze in the women’s 10m Air Pistol.
In Tokyo, Elena competed in the women’s 10m Air Pistol and the 25m Pistol events.
In the women’s 10m Air Pistol, Elena finished 27th with 569 points – just eight points off qualifying for the final.
“I came unstuck a bit in the last series, maybe overthinking a few things. But overall, I am pleased with my efforts and how I conducted myself well and I was true to my values. I really enjoyed the experience, the atmosphere and the environment and being part of that competition,” Elena told the Australian Olympic Team.
In the women’s 25m Pistol, Elena demonstrated some fantastic shooting, climbing from 31st position after the Precision stage to 11th place after the Rapid Fire stage, only narrowly missing out on the final.
Congratulations to Elena for her career accomplishments, sporting achievements, and for living her values. We wish Elena all the best in her new chapter as a urological surgeon, which will commence in February 2022.